VALERIE TAYLOR

INDIVIDUAL | Inducted 1992 [Now Deceased]

Born in 1913, she was an outspoken advocate of lesbian and gay concerns from the 1950s onward and wrote several lesbian-themed novels and poems. She edited the ‘Mattachine Midwest Newsletter’ while in Chicago and was active in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Retired in Tucson, she was writing and active in social change until her 1997 death.

Now retired in Tucson, Valerie Taylor is a nationally known author of lesbian-themed novels and poems and one of Chicago gay and lesbian activism’s authentic pioneers

Besides the novels and poems that she has had published since the 1950s,Taylor made many public appearances to great effect in Chicago during the 1960s and early 1970s–sometimes identifying herself as founder of the “Lesbian Grandmothers of America” (she is one), and always advocating persuasively for lesbian and gay welfare before media, City Council, and rally audiences.

Not only was Taylor a founder and board member of Mattachine Midwest beginning in 1965, but she was involved in short1lived predecessor attempts to start a Mattachine group in Chicago, and she was involved with an early Daughters of Bilitis group here as well.

For years, she either edited or greatly assisted with publication of the Mattachine Midwest Newsletter, lending her apartment, typewriter, culinary skills, and literary knowledge to the task, and greatly inspiring the other volunteers who worked on it. Besides all this, she was active in the local chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and joined as an open lesbian in its peace efforts during the Vietnam War era. In 1975, she received the Paul R. Goldman Award from ONE of Chicago, an early group that was a branch of Los Angeles’s historic ONE Inc. Taylor eventually retired, first to upstate New York and then to Tucson, where she lives in penury at the age of 79. Her “legal” name is Velma Tate, but she has used “Valerie Taylor” for professional and activist purposes for decades.

As she once pointed out in a Common Likes/Lesbian Lives interview, Taylor comes from a tradition of women’s activism; one of her great1grandmothers marched in the first suffrage parade in Elgin, Illinois, in 1889.

Taylor also has frequently and proudly referred to her Potawatomi ancestry and, hving coped successfully for many years with a physical impairment, she has been an advocate for the disabled as well. Never a rich woman financially, her wealth of energies and skills have always gone primarily toward social change and the relief of oppression.

Back